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Resumes & Cover Letters
Consider your resume and cover letter to be a professional marketing tool where you can best represent yourself to prospective employers, volunteer sites, graduate programs, and more. Both documents should be concise and tailored to a target audience – read below for tips on how to do so.
While it’s useful to maintain a running document of everything you’ve done, knowing that the average recruiter spends less than 10 seconds scanning a resume, it’s important to make the best use of space and to choose wisely when selecting your most relevant experiences, skills, and accomplishments. Here are the most common categories used in college level resumes:
- Relevant Coursework
- Activities or Honors
When you get to the point of having multiple types of experiences, it can be helpful to separate out the Experience category into Relevant Experience and Additional Experience. It does not matter if the experiences are paid or unpaid, but that they are relevant to your applications. Anything that is important for them to see, needs to be on the top ¾ of the page.
Other categories include International Experience, Leadership Experience, Research Experience, Community or Campus Involvement, Volunteer Experience, etc.
If possible, keep your resume to one page, but for graduate students and experienced professionals this may not be possible. You still want to make sure you’re including only the most relevant information unless asked for a CV, which is more commonly requested for academic and research-based positions. This article can provide relevant tips for that format.
Writing Effective Descriptions
Instead of writing out what you did for each job, volunteer opportunity, club, etc. consider what you accomplished and if there are any tangible results, try and quantify them. For example, instead of saying you created a social media account for your summer retail job, you could say you ‘Created a Facebook page to increase awareness of their downtown store, resulting in 100+ engagements’.
If you are running low on available space, dedicate more space to the more technical or relevant opportunities vs the more obvious duties of other jobs, like retail where it can be assumed what a cashier does every day. This is also where you can embed relevant keywords you are seeing in various job postings and demonstrate your skills in them (if applicable). Check out this list of Action Verbs to start each phrase off right.
If you are really stuck and need assistance in drafting a resume, the Writing Center can assist with both online and in-person appointments. Once you’ve drafted a resume, the SCI Career Consultant can review it.
- Technical Resume (with formatting tips)
- Computer Science – Undergraduate
- Information Science – Undergraduate
- DNID resume: coming soon
- Data science resume: coming soon
- Graduate resume: coming soon
Cover Letter Building
While not every company requires a cover letter, they can be helpful if you haven’t spoken to anyone at the company before. It could be your only opportunity to provide more insight to why you are applying to the company/role, what you bring to it, and why you’d be a good fit. It’s also a great way to prepare for a first-round interview and understanding your motivations for applying (since the interviewer will ask).
Cover letters are even more important if you’ve been referred to the company or a particular role by a current or former employee. Referrals are consistently a great way to land a first interview, so be sure to include their name. It helps recruiters know that someone is willing to vouch for you or that you took the extra step to attend one of their recruitment events, network with an employee, etc.
Check out this handout to start drafting a tailored cover letter and be sure to have someone review it.
Sample Cover Letter
- Sample Cover Letter: coming soon
Please note that many companies do not require cover letters, but have embedded supplemental essay questions in their online applications. For tips on how to write an effective cover letter or respond to supplemental application questions, check out this article .
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CV and Resume Writing
Throughout your Pitt career and beyond, you will want to keep an up-to-date Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume: an organized listing of your employment, volunteer and extracurricular activties as well as skills you build in your experiences. While the Resume is typically shorter than a CV, you want to keep a detailed record since you can always slim it for a particular application format.
Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume:
A CV or Resume is an organized listing of your qualifications and experiences to show what you can do and what you know, presented in a succinct and structured format. (Here we use the terms interchangably and will refer to them as CV.)
The CV is often read quickly by people evaluating you for a lab position, job, school admission or funding. Yours must be neat and readable with the most important information for the reader upfront and easily accessible. You will need to reorganize it to change emphasis for different types of applications.
CVs have many uses:
- For you- it organizes your career information in one place -so keep updating a running list of your experiences.
- Should they hire you? Give you the scholarship? Accept you into their program?
- For a first job in a field it will be used to determine your starting salary
- Later in your career it will be used for contract renewals and promotions
Organize the CV for your audience:
Consider who will be reading your application and what they are looking for. What do they want in a researcher/employee/student? Why are they offering fellowships? What is their "mindset" when reading your application? How many applications are they probably reviewing and how much time do they have to spend on this?
Start here to build your CV:
First, brainstorm all of your experiences, outside of the classroom and even inside, beginning with high school. List anything that might possibly be relevant. Cast a wide net and include any honors and scholarships.
Organize your information into categories.
Choose useful, descriptive, job-specific headings for your categories. (ex. Research Experiences, Teaching Experiences, Leadership Experiences)
Order the categories in order of importance for this position . And brag - put honors and scholarships up top if relevant. Focus on your audience for this particular application and on readability for these readers.
Within each category:
- Begin with most recent events in the category
- Include specifics (people, places, dates) to connect to your audience and give yourself credibility
- Describe your role using power action verbs (download list below) and succinct language.
- Document skills you have developed. Skills from lab courses count if you feel like you developed them well enough to repeat them without much new training. Let people know what you can do !
Format with a simple, approachable style that makes you want to pick up the CV and read it first in the stack. Use "white space" well and don't cram in your information. Look for examples in the Biosc Advising Office and online.
Check that important information is easy to get.
PROOFREAD! We cannot emphasize this enough.
Ask for advice. Show it to friends, family, classmates. Bring it by the Biosci Advising Office. Let people know the qualifications of the position so they can evaulate it with that in mind. Ask them to be critical. Pitt's Career Center will also help.
For more tips on CV/resume writing and power verb examples Click here !
Check out examples- good and bad- in the Biosc Advising Office.
- At Parturient Porta Vestibulum Integer Sociosqu Vitae Aptent Aptent Praesent Rhoncus Urna
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How to Write an Academic CV That Will Make You Stand Out
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Your CV serves as a comprehensive record of your educational background, teaching experience, academic research, and scholarly service. This document represents your academic credentials when applying for postdoctoral positions or for faculty positions at four-year institutions.
Join us in this webinar where we’ll review how to write an academic CV that will help you stand out in the hiring process.
This webinar is uniquely designed for doctoral students, PhDs, and postdocs from all academic disciplines who are wondering:
– What do I need to include in my academic CV? – How should I format an academic CV? – How can I make my CV stand out from others?
Register today at: https://institutions.beyondprof.com/webinar-how-to-write-an-academic-cv/
One more step:
Spread the word by sharing this event with your social networks, save it to your calendar, add to calendar.
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Nursing Resume Sample
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